Phil Nichol: Nearly Gay and The Naked Racist

DVD review by Steve Bennett

Some comics reflect the audience’s own lives back at them, taking pains to emphasise how normal they are, how universal their observations. Others take a more reckless approach to life, seeking wild experiences then reporting back, letting the viewer experience their thrills vicariously. In this double-bill, Phil Nichol falls most definitely in the second camp.

These shows have certainly been a long time coming to DVD. Nichol won Edinburgh’s big prize for The Naked Racist way back in 2006 while Nearly Gay is a year older still. But it was worth the wait, for while this won’t be among this season’s biggest selling discs, they are great stories worth preserving and repeating.

The first tells of a trip to Amsterdam – alone, following a blazing row with his girlfriend – with the expected overindulgence in drink and drugs leading to a visit to a fetish club. As he stumbles through the streets, he encounters a skinhead gang, who he scares off by shedding his cloths and getting naked.

The second tale also includes a fetish club, where this time he encountered a gay midget Hitler and a man who dwelt in the urinal trough, encouraging people to piss on him. He got there because he was accused of being homophobic for his silly Corky & The Juice Pigs song The Only Gay Eskimo – causing him to over-compensate to the extent that he wound up repeatedly asking an ultra-camp Melburnian hairdresser out on dates, and dry-humping his girlfriend’s father in a hotel lobby on their very first meeting.

The DVD is rated 18 for a reason. Well, two. First, the topics and language are decidedly adult; although Nichol sidesteps any real offence by lauding the unconventional with sincerity. And second is the celebratory full-frontal climax to The Naked Racist which requires a job you don’t often see on the credits: Nude wrangler.

Both yarns are so compelling that you always want to know what happens next; although Nearly Gay is probably the stronger tale, even if it didn’t win the award. And both are driven forward by Nichol’s powerhouse performance. This might, essentially, be storytelling, but the Canadian is a real rock and roll comic here – and not just because he’s backed by band at certain points, from doing Proclaimers covers to sharing his little-seen drag act. His is a forceful, passionate delivery from start to finish that leaves him dripping in sweat from the physical and emotional toll the stories take.

This can never be fully captured on the small screen, but energy this intense burns through the cameras, and you do get a sense of it, even when sitting on the sofa – though you may not join his call to shed clothing for peace. It’s a hippy-era idea that bears up to no scrutiny, but Nichol could convince you black is white, or that straight is gay.

Published: 7 Nov 2012

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.